Seymour's proposed euthanasia changes bring Greens onboard, but opponents not convinced

Proposed changes to the bill to legalise euthanasia have brought the Green Party onboard, but the changes have not convinced other opponents of the bill to come on board.  

Marama Davidson

Talking to media today, a group of MPs who were against the bill spoke about their reasoning and the proposed changes they were putting forward. 

"Whether it could be made fully safe to the extent there would be no wrongful deaths is very doubtful in my view and in the view of many others," National MP Chris Penk said. 

North Shore MP, National's Maggie Barry, said her proposed changes which she had said previously could reach 120, was
"certainly not filibustering, it is in an effort to ensure the voices of the vulnerable are heard".

Ms Barry said the allegations were thoroughly investigated by the public service and were not upheld.

"I would imagine it could quite easily go beyond that, you can make amendments on amendments, it's a long and protracted process, and it needs to be, for something as life and death as this."

"This is reflecting the genuine concerns of the vulnerable. We are there to advocate for them and to ensure we can put in as many safeguards and provisions we can to ensure this dangerous and highly risky bill will reflect their concerns."

Ms Barry said her mother had dementia and there was "not a single moment where she would wake and you could guarantee she knew exactly what was happening over about a four year period". 

In response, ACT leader David Seymour - who entered the bill into Parliament - said opponents had the right to their own view, "what they don’t have a right to do is take away other people's choice".

"If they don’t like it, they should not use it, but they shouldn’t prevent other people from being able to choose what they do with their life and make their choice".

When asked how long it would take to go through 120 changes in Parliament, Mr Seymour said, "this is no America, in the United States you can strap in a catheter, read the telephone book for 24 hours and delay things. Here you get five minutes to speak at a time.

Leader David Seymour says New Zealanders should not be punished for voicing unpopular opinions.

"There are 28 sections in this proposed law, anyone who puts up 120 amendments for 28 sections is just trying to waste the Parliament and the public’s time."

He said the latest 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton Poll  showed the general public’s view had not shifted over the last two year period.  

In the poll eligible voters were asked: "Parliament is considering a new bill on euthanasia, do you think a person who is terminally or incurably ill should be able to request the assistance of a doctor to end their life?"

Seventy-two per cent were in favour and 20 per cent were against. The 2018 poll found 76 per cent agreed with making euthanasia available, with 15 per cent against.

After Mr Seymour's proposed changes were submitted, the Green Party came out in support of his amendments to narrow the scope of the proposed law. 

Co-leader Marama Davidson said her party would not have supported it if the legislation continued to include people who were not terminally ill - "This is because we cannot be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities," she said. 

"Our membership painstakingly got us to the very detailed and considered position we hold on medically-assisted dying as a Party. We are really happy to see the proposed amendment that means the legislation will be closely aligned with our policy.

"We will support any further amendments that strengthen the legislation in line with our policy and look forward to continuing this journey so that New Zealand can proudly say we are showing compassion for people who are terminally ill who wish to pass on their own terms."

MPs will begin going through proposals tonight to the End of Life Choice bill. 

Yesterday, Mr Seymour put forward that his bill should only include a person with a terminal illness with less than six months to live, have it explicitly stated that a person was ineligible if the reason was only if the person had a disability, mental illness or disorder or was of an advanced age and a health practitioner could not initiate a conversation about or suggest assisted dying.